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Monuments & Maidens
     

Monuments & Maidens

by Marina Warner
 

Marina Warner explores the tradition of personifying liberty, justice, wisdom, charity, and other ideals and desiderata in the female form, and examines the tension between women's historic and symbolic roles. Drawing on the evidence of public art, especially sculpture, and painting, poetry, and classical mythology, she ranges over the allegorical presence of the

Overview

Marina Warner explores the tradition of personifying liberty, justice, wisdom, charity, and other ideals and desiderata in the female form, and examines the tension between women's historic and symbolic roles. Drawing on the evidence of public art, especially sculpture, and painting, poetry, and classical mythology, she ranges over the allegorical presence of the woman in the Western tradition with a sharply observant eye and a piquant and engaging style.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A book to change the way we see the world, and the place of women in it.” – Literary Review

“Marina Warner examines three very different allegorical uses of the female form: New York’s Statue of Liberty, the public sculptures of central Paris and the images of Mrs. Thatcher favoured by Fleet Street. The latter is one of the most brilliant analyses of the book, displaying Ms. Warner’s combination of wit and erudition at its most dazzling.” – Financial Times

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Examining an impressive scope of materialart (Donatello, Vermeer, Judy Chicago), Greek mythology, the Bible, literature, linguistics and mass mediaWarner (Alone of All Her Sex) traces the different meanings which have been ascribed to the female form throughout the ages. ``Liberty is not represented by a woman because women were and are free''; allegory by definition requires a gap (and a resemblance) between the ideal and the real. But there is a give-and-take of meaning between the female fantasy figuresAthena, Wisdom, Temperance, et al.and actual women. Warner suggests that some women (the armed maidens of Justice and Chastity, etc.) may take on male personas (the brandished weapons) to best shield themselves from the masculine code. Pandora, the first woman of classical myth, and Eve, the mother in the Judeo-Christian story, bear the burden of men's dreams: made and named by others, agents of calamity through the desire they inspire but do not experience themselves. Unlike men, women lose their individuality as they become universal symbols, and the only way to rid the female form of contaminated meanings is ``to respect the individual inside the symbol''to look through the Statue of Liberty's eyes to see that she can represent freedom only if we were to forget the female condition. The difficulty with this sometimes brilliant study is that, like the history it examines, it never comes to rest with an unchanging definition. Illustrated. November 25
Library Journal
Warner investigates a recurrent motif in allegory, ``the female form as an expression of desiderata and virtues,'' looking at literary and visual forms from classical times to the present. She assumes a working knowledge of classical writings, but her presentation is clearly thought out, and not burdened down with jargon, esoterica, or non-sequiturs. At the center of Warner's argument is an attempt to understand the paradox of using the form of a woman to represent ideas that are not considered womanly (Justice is represented as a woman, but not because women are thought to be just). She raises issues that are important to the continued development of a scholarly discipline of women's studies, as well as breaking new ground in the literary interpretation of traditional myths and images. Highly recommended. Patricia Scott, Comparative Arts Dept., Ohio Univ., Chillicothe
Wendy Smith
Feminist analysis has shown how female images in art and advertising reveal society's attitudes, conscious and unconscious, towards women. Warner's Monuments and Maidens provides a much needed historical context for today's debates.
Village Voice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780099588818
Publisher:
Random House UK
Publication date:
03/12/1996
Pages:
417
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.81(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Marina Warner is a prize-winning novelist and cultural historian whose works include From the Beast to the Blonde, Managing Monsters and The Lost Father (shortlisted for the Booker).

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